me·tic·u·lous | \mə-ˈti-kyə-ləs \

Definition of meticulous 

: marked by extreme or excessive care in the consideration or treatment of details a meticulous researcher

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Other Words from meticulous

meticulosity \-ˌti-kyə-ˈlä-sə-tē \ noun
meticulously \-ˈti-kyə-ləs-lē \ adverb
meticulousness \-nəs \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for meticulous


careful, conscientious, fussy, loving, painstaking, scrupulous



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Choose the Right Synonym for meticulous

careful, meticulous, scrupulous, punctilious mean showing close attention to detail. careful implies attentiveness and cautiousness in avoiding mistakes. a careful worker meticulous may imply either commendable extreme carefulness or a hampering finicky caution over small points. meticulous scholarship scrupulous applies to what is proper or fitting or ethical. scrupulous honesty punctilious implies minute, even excessive attention to fine points. punctilious observance of ritual

Meticulous Has Fearful Roots

It may surprise you to learn that meticulous is derived from the Latin word for "fearful" - meticulosus - and ultimately comes from the Latin noun metus, meaning "fear." Although meticulous currently has no "fearful" meanings, it was originally used as a synonym of frightened and timid. This sense had fallen into disuse by 1700, and in the 19th century meticulous acquired a new sense of "overly and timidly careful" (probably influenced by the French word méticuleux). This in turn led to the current meaning of "painstakingly careful," with no connotations of fear at all. The newest use was controversial among some usage commentators at first, but it has since become by far the most common meaning and is no longer considered an error.

Examples of meticulous in a Sentence

Always meticulous about his appearance in the past, he had become dirty and unkempt, with straggly hair, stained clothes, and patches of silver stubble on his chin. — Minette Walters, Fox Evil, 2002 She was very much the craftswoman, all her work meticulous, slow, perfect. — Simon Winchester, The Professor and the Madman, 1998 In dense, meticulous arguments … Brooten mounts an assault on that view. — Cullen Murphy, Atlantic, August 1993 He described the scene in meticulous detail. He is meticulous about keeping accurate records.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The rescue mission required meticulous preparation, concentration and the ability to remain calm. Phred Dvorak, WSJ, "All 12 Boys and Their Soccer Coach Rescued From Thai Cave," 10 July 2018 Lalli credits Bain for his success, particularly his meticulous preparation. Paul Johnson, Aurora Beacon-News, "Bain's gains: Cougars starter Jeff Bain named top pitcher in Diamondbacks' farm system for June," 8 July 2018 With the notable exception of the Donald Sterling saga, which elicited true contempt, there haven’t been many instances in which Silver broke from his meticulous and subdued public demeanor. Ben Golliver,, "Two Years After Durant’s Decision, Adam Silver Changes Tune on Superteam Warriors," 11 July 2018 These depictions of sea life are meticulous and earnest, if unskilled. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "New England museums to visit this summer and fall," 4 July 2018 Her writing was meticulous and reflected her personality. Jacques Kelly,, "Wendi Winters, prolific feature writer for The Capital who shared stories about notable residents," 2 July 2018 As a neighbor, he was known for taking meticulous care of his lawn. Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY, "Golden State Killer suspect to appear in court on murder charges," 27 Apr. 2018 The 64-year-old was meticulous and confident as a firefighter, friends and former colleagues recall. Christine Willmsen, The Seattle Times, "Jeanette Woldseth, Washington’s first female firefighter, was a self-effacing pioneer," 10 Apr. 2018 Aardman Animations is the British studio famous for its meticulous and tactile stop-motion work. Pam Grady, San Francisco Chronicle, "Nick Park meets the Stone Age in ‘Early Man’," 7 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'meticulous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of meticulous

1827, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for meticulous

earlier, "fearful," borrowed from Latin metīculōsus, metūculōsus "timid, apprehensive," from metū-, stem of metus "fear, dread" (of uncertain origin) + -culōsus (in perīculōsus "involving danger, perilous")

Note: The senses "overscrupulous," then "careful, scrupulous" may depend on French méticuleux, for which these meanings are attested somewhat earlier than in English.

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Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for meticulous

The first known use of meticulous was in 1827

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More Definitions for meticulous



English Language Learners Definition of meticulous

: very careful about doing something in an extremely accurate and exact way


me·tic·u·lous | \mə-ˈtik-yə-ləs \

Kids Definition of meticulous

: showing extreme or excessive care in thinking about or dealing with small details a meticulous description

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